Delaware Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee has announced the Delaware recipients of the Specialty Crop Block Grant funds that are awarded every year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) for projects designed to enhance the competitiveness of Delaware’s specialty crops.
This year, eight Delaware projects will receive a total of $251,741.11 from the USDA AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant Program established in the 2008 Farm Bill. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).
“These grants are given each year to assist Delaware growers with market expansion as well as the development of new products,” said Secretary Kee. “The competitiveness of Delaware’s specialty crops will be increased through continuing education, applied research, improved technology, and genomic research.”
This year the eight projects will:
• Partner with the Bennett Orchards and the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension to develop a highly productive and cost effective method for establishing blueberries;
• Provide students with an opportunity to grow and eat specialty crops as well as develop life skills regarding nutrition, resulting in a healthy lifestyle that includes consumption of specialty crops through school gardening and curriculum;
• Partner with the University of Delaware to develop both field and laboratory/greenhouse screening methods to evaluate germplasm of Phaseolus lunatus for resistance to P. capsici which would benefit lima bean growers in terms of yield protection and reduced fungicide costs;
• Partner with the University of Delaware to conduct research on extending production seasons, varietal adaptation and fresh pack legumes which would increase production and sales of fresh market vegetables;
• Partner with the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware to promote Good Agricultural Practices/Good Handling Practices farm plan development, enhance farm to school/institution business and increase local vegetable and fruit consumption in youth and adults through workshops;
• Partner with the University of Delaware Department of Entomology, Applied Ecology and Plant and Soil Sciences to develop sustainable best management practices for growers through following colony survival and growth of commercial bumble bee pollination units;
• Partner with the Delaware Christmas Tree Growers’ Association to improve the practices of growing Christmas trees, promote marketing of Christmas trees, educate members on best growing practices and educate the public on the benefits of growing Christmas trees; and
• Partner with the University of Delaware Plant Science Department and Cooperative Extension Service to conduct evaluation of breeding material from the breeding program, investigate heat tolerance in lima beans and investigate genetic inheritance of cyanogenic glycoside production to aid in identification of a high-yielding lima bean for commercial production.